Roasted Dates with Goat Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon

photography by Elizabeth Messina
Roasted Medjool Dates with Goat Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon
Makes 50 to 60, serving about 30 people

I had heard of dates before but honestly had no idea what they looked like or tasted like. For some reason they sounded yucky to me, like an old date-nut cake that I must have had at some holiday. I’m not sure what made me think I didn’t like dates because I absolutely LOVE them now and eat them as a snack all the time. (I even just ate one after I re-opened this recipe to edit it.) The dates have become one of my top 5 hors d’oeuvres catering recipes and they are a hit every single time. I have the Greesnpan’s to thank for this recipe because they specifically requested that I put something with dates on their wedding menu. I didn’t even know what I was looking for when I went on my search for them. Then I found them from this guy with no teeth at the Farmer’s Market. I also buy them from Costco. Costco has two kinds of dates: The Medjool dates that are in the produce section and the other smaller dates that are by the raisins, etc. You can also get the smaller ones at Trader Joe’s, which are still good, but not as good as the plump ones. I also use the Silver Label Goat Cheese from Trader Joe’s because it is one of my favorites. If you can’t find the Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, then just substitute your favorite bacon.

2 pounds (about 24 to 30) fresh Medjool Dates
11 ounces mild goat cheese
1 pound Applewood Smoked Bacon (preferably Niman Ranch)

1. Cut dates in half lengthwise and remove pit. Place halves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Fill the empty date halves with a good teaspoon or so of the goat cheese.

2. To cook the bacon, lay bacon out on a parchment lined baking sheet or roasting rack and bake in a 400 degree oven until 75% cooked. (Or as Christy Cushman taught me, you can make them in the microwave on a special bacon rack.) The bacon should be cooked, but not super crispy as it will cook a little more when you put it on top of the dates. Remove the bacon from the tray and cut it into little strips. (If you are vegetarian or don’t eat pork, you can omit the bacon and put chopped chives or whatever else you want on them.) You can also cook the bacon a day or so ahead of time, so it is all ready to go right before your party!

3. Place two or three little strips of bacon on top of each date. Bake dates in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or until hot. Serve warm.

Notes: The dates can be made up to two days in advance. The bacon can also be precooked two days in advance. Just wait to put the bacon on the dates until the day you want to put them in the oven.
Hors d’oeuvres Recipe
3rd Draft Edited by Maili, Draft 2, typed by Kelly McNabb, 2nd Draft edited by Maili
Maili Productions Cookbook Maili Halme Brocke 1-5-2005, edited 1-23-2005, edited 8-5-06

The recipe Testing E-Mail
August 5, 2006
Hi Recipe Testers!

I know you haven’t heard from me since last November! We had the busiest catering winter ever. I’m hoping for a slow season this winter so I can get back to working on the cookbook. I’m still in the process of updating recipes (so if you have a friend or relative that you have asked me to add, I’m still in the process of adding names).

I just had a request for this recipe this morning, which made me kind of jump start the whole process. I plan to begin recipe testing officially again in the fall (should be on Tuesdays again, for those of you who live in CA). As soon as I learn how to make a blog from Pam Keravuori, I will be blogging all of the recipes, so that previously sent recipes will be easy to find for those of you who are new to the list. The blog will also enable you to see all the questions people ask and my responses. I’m completely new to blogs (have only visited , but I’ve been told this will make the whole process so much easier!)

Please note that the majority of recipes we send out are “drafts” that are in progress, or as I always say to Ann: “under development.” The original purpose of the recipe testing e-mails was to send them to my good friends who could then tell me if there were any misspellings, unclear parts of the recipe, typo’s, etc. so I could change them. The list has now grown and there are “friends of friends” on here and some people I have never met. I have people who never actually test the recipes, but just proofread them. I have others who have tested every single one. And there are others who just enjoy getting the recipes and that I never hear back from. I appreciate all feedback both positive and negative. If you would only like to receive final versions than please let us know.

All of the recipes are owned by Maili Productions and are not allowed to be used for publication or sale. You may however freely forward and share recipes with whomever you like. They may also be used for non-profit groups in fundraising cookbooks (i.e. girl scouts, wives’ clubs, schools, etc.) If you are a chef, caterer or cook (as a number of you are) you may also freely use the recipes for your restaurant or business. (This date recipe in particular has been my most copied hors d’oeuvres and is now on the menu at the Simpson House and has been used by many other caterers. Dorcas Young just made them last week for a shower.)

I will try to attach pictures whenever possible.

More to come in the fall!




Some notes about my cooking style we assume you know:

All butter is UNSALTED.
This was a HUGE debate last year brought about by a simple question from Paula Keiser. I will publish parts of it on the blog.

All salt is either Kosher Salt or Baliene (Blue container) French Sea Salt
This is a significant tip. Everyone always wonders why my food tastes better than theirs and this is an enormous reason why. It is one of those subtle things that makes a big difference, especially on vegetables and meat. Regular table salt has Iodine in it and is MUCH saltier than Kosher salt or French Sea Salt. (Be sure if you buy the French salt, it is not the large grained rock salt in the red one container. The large grained red one is great to make a bed of salt to display oysters, but it far too large to use in cooking. The large one can be used in salt grinders.)

Measure Properly When Baking
Everyone is probably laughing when they read this, since anyone who has cooked with me knows that I cook by feel, taste and sight. Measuring in my most of my cooking is almost impossible for me. However, when baking, I do measure. Dry ingredients go in nesting measuring cups and wet ingredients go into liquid measuring cups; there is a difference! Flour is measured by gently spooning it into a dry measuring cup and leveling it off with the back of the spoon or knife. Do not tap or shake the cup while measuring flour or it will condense. Brown sugar is measured by packing it in.

Make sure your Pan is Hot!
Get your pan hot BEFORE adding oil or butter. The truly sauté and prevent meat, chicken, fish, onions, etc. from sticking to the pan, the pan must be hot before you put anything in it. You should be able to “hear” your food sizzle when it goes in the pan.


Suwaneetown said…
Hi, Maili. I posted a note a moment ago, but I couldn't see it. So, to be completely redundant -- Lizette and I miss you and wish you, Jason and the girls still lived next door. We will serve your Dates and the Arugula Bundles for our Christmas Eve dinner. Thanks for the gift of your friendship!
Merry Christmas!! - David E.
Anonymous said…
Looks great, Maili!
Congratulations and Happy Holidays!Linda Ray
Charlie said…
Thanks for the great recipe!!!!
e d b m said…
These are soooo good. anything with bacon is nice.
Meesh said…
I served these tonight at a party and they were a HIT!!!!

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